Having trouble losing weight? There’s a pill for that. In the last two years, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the third and highly anticipated weight loss pill. It will join the shelves among Qsymia and Belviq, to add to the options of appetite suppressants for weight loss. But what are these pills doing to the body and why is the FDA releasing them onto a market targeted to a sickly obese nation?

The FDA believes this new diet pill Contrave will give the 78.6 million obese American adults another option with different side effects and drawbacks to choose from, but like its competitors, will be used as a way to assist weight loss. Are these pills necessary? Are people that far gone and sick that they can no longer rely on diet and exercise to bring them back to health and shed their life-threatening fat? Obesity increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers, and medical costs for obesity are in the hundred billions ($147 billion recorded in 2008), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Obesity continues to be a major public health concern," the FDA's Jean-Marc Guettier said in a press release. "When used as directed in combination with a healthy lifestyle that includes a reduced-calorie diet and exercise, Contrave provides another treatment option for chronic weight management for people who are obese or are overweight and have at least one weight-related health condition."

The medication is a concoction of an antidepressant bupropion and an opioid dependence prevention drug naltrexone to increase tolerance to patients and is all manufactured by Orexigen Therapeutics Inc., but will be marketed by Takeda Pharmaceutical of Japan. Despite the antidepressant, the pill still comes with a warning that it might cause or increase suicidal thoughts as well as increase blood pressure and heart rate, the FDA said after drug testing. Those who win over the prescription due to their high BMI (body mass index), weight, and fat percentage, have to undergo a 12-week trial evaluation coupled with diet and exercise to see if the pill works within their physiology. If the patient doesn’t lose at least five percent of their starting body weight, they’ll be taken off the drug, because that would indicate it's unlikely to work for them.

The effectiveness of Qsymia and Belviq haven’t even been compared yet in clinical trials, but each drug, including Contrave, has been tested against a placebo to compare how well it works. Qsymia can be used to treat those who are obese and overweight and showed an average 8.9 percent weight loss, while adults taking Belviq showed an average weight loss of three to 3.7 percent and has the risk of causing birth defects during pregnancy. All of these drugs come with unwanted side effects, such as numbness, tingling sensations, dizziness, unusual taste bud senses, difficulty sleeping, constipation, mood problems, fatigue, headache, and dry mouth, according to Drugs.com.

Many patients will be deterred by the price tags of these pills anyway, considering only 30 to 40 percent of health maintenance organizations offer obesity coverage, and even when it is covered, the patients still are stuck paying a bulk of the costs. This is an interesting entanglement of frustration for the obese, especially since obesity has been officially recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association for over a year now.

Obesity is a complex disorder that involves a higher calorie intake than the amount that’s been burned off through exercise and everyday activity. The quest for the perfect pill has been elusive and challenging, and while three are now on the market, they’re too young to prove their strength against the obesity epidemic.